JERUSALEM (Jan. 2)
Security forces deported 15 alleged leaders of the intifada over the weekend and arrested nine other Palestinians accused of direct participation in the uprising.
Seven of the deportees were from the West Bank and eight from the Gaza Strip. They were expelled to Lebanon.
A military spokesman said they were deported because they “participated in leading the intifada.”
Two of the Palestinians left voluntarily and were told they could return to the territories in five years if they ceased anti-Israel activity, according to a report in The New York Times.
A total of 47 Palestinians have been deported since the intifada began nearly 13 months ago.
The arrests were made at the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, where the homes of two suspected intifada activists were blown up Monday morning. The owners were said to belong to the Islamic Resistance Movement, known as Hamas.
The nine arrested are accused of a long list of rock and firebomb attacks, including one on an Israel Defense Force patrol four months ago and another five months ago on a civilian bus.
They are also accused of distributing Hamas leaflets and participation in violent demonstrations inside the camp.
A general curfew was imposed in the territories Sunday to forestall disturbances on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the founding of Al Fatah. It was lifted Monday, except in certain refugee camps, where it remained in force.
Security forces were surprised Monday to find a street in downtown Ramallah lined with portraits of Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat.
Meanwhile, 60 defense lawyers who represent Palestinians brought before military courts declared a month-long protest strike Monday.
They accused the military authorities of employing tactics and raising obstacles that make it impossible to give their clients a fair defense.
The lawyers said they submitted a list of grievances to the authorities last May, but they were ignored, and new restrictions have been imposed.